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Serco Optimistic about Growth prospects for 2022

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Business at the truck body and trailer-building company Serco has improved this year compared with 2020 but is still below that achieved in 2019.

This is according to Serco CEO Clinton Holcroft who said it had been a tremendously challenging time with the Covid-19 pandemic continuing to impact a variety of industries and the South African economy.

“The company used the crisis to focus on driving cost reductions and streamlining processes to improve service levels while broadening the product range to create growth,” said Holcroft.

Serco is one of South Africa’s leading insulated and dry freight truck body and trailer manufacturing companies with branches in Durban, Johannesburg, Cape Town and Gqeberha.

Holcroft, who estimates that the company had built more than 20 000 vehicles in its 40-year history, said although the improvement in revenue this year had been encouraging, sales were down 30% on 2019. “To counter the reduction in sales, we broadened our product range to include more dry freight vehicle bodies and have seen good growth in this sector. We have also increased our fleet of rental refrigerated semi-trailers by 10 vehicles.”

He said a lot of potential customers had delayed orders due to lack of availability of truck chassis caused by global supply chain shortages.

“A highlight of this year has been the development of a new design refrigerated interlink trailer offering improved volume and ease of use as well as design changes to our flagship ’Frostliner’ refrigerated bodies to increase payload and enhance the finish of the panels while raising sustainability standards further.

“The new innovations will offer tangible features which I believe, will encourage customers to upgrade to the new technology”.

There had been a significant reduction, he said, in trailer replacements but hopefully as Covid levels continuing to drop and the economy starts to open again, that we will see an upswing, similar to trends overseas.

With sustainability and cutting carbon emissions being a global priority, Serco would continue its drive to responsible manufacturing practices and minimise our impact on the environment.  In 2019 Serco installed 1029 solar panels on the roof of its Durban factory which allows the premises to go off the grid during the day. The solar power 400kw peak system has the potential to save the company 75% of its electricity costs, equating to a saving of about 900 tons of CO2 a year.

Other greening initiatives include the recycling of paper and plastic it uses as well as a rainwater harvesting system for washing vehicles.

Turning to the South African economy Holcroft said he hoped there would be further structural reforms to encourage growth and employment. Considering the dire need to reduce unemployment, possibly a Ministerial Advisory Committee similar to that used so effectively during Covid, could be set up to focus on economic growth for South Africa.

“Serco’s aim for next year is to see a return to our pre Covid performance and to build on the positive initiatives we have put in place to generate growth and further value for our customers in the transport and logistics sectors”.

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Wanted! South Africa’s most exceptional drivers for #ThankYouTrucker competition

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What makes an exceptional truck driver? Is it time-keeping and being reliable? Good behaviour? Going beyond the call of duty? Excellent people skills? Outstanding driving skills? An impeccable safety record? From the variety of entries being submitted for the 2022 #ThankYouTrucker competition, it is evident that it is all of this – and more!

Launched in June, the #ThankYouTrucker competition aims to recognise and celebrate truck drivers across the country. The competition is a partnership between IVECO SA and the Road Freight Association (RFA). Entries for this year’s competition are pouring in – with fascinating, inspiring stories being shared.

Here are some of the reasons truck drivers are being nominated:

  • He has been with us since the inception of the business, which is now 15 years old. He lives and breathes trucking. The love for trucking and being on the open road pumps through his veins! Never have we met an individual who would rather be on the road, than at home with his family. He is a specialist in his field!
  • When he leaves South Africa, he has a truck load of food for the border runners and children along the way and always shares this. He always has friendly words of encouragement for others and a smile on his face.
  • He is passionate about his occupation and we are very proud he is ours!!
  • He is always on the job and always treats our customers with respect. A week ago, a lady had an accident on the N2 and he was the first person on the scene. He helped her out of her vehicle and warned oncoming traffic. A few years ago, he also helped a family who had an accident while he was on his way to make a delivery. His vehicle is always neat and he looks after his truck as if it is his own.
  • He is the best and youngest driver in the firm. He’s 24 years old this year, but the maturity in his driving is exceptional. As a long distance and short distance driver, he always finishes even the hardest loads. The future is really bright for him! He’s constantly upgrading his skills and qualifications. He once said he’s going to be the first person to obtain a degree while driving trucks full time!

“Being a top truck driver is no easy feat,” explains Martin Liebenberg, Managing Director of IVECO SA. “It requires dedication, hard work, patience, excellent technical and soft skills, ongoing training and development, a lot of sacrifices – and more! The #ThankYouTrucker competition aims to inspire our truck drivers to keep on doing their best – particularly in these challenging times.”

How to Enter

Fleet owners and managers can nominate any number of drivers they believe meet the criteria for being our top trucker. Entries close on 3 September 2022.

The winner will receive R50 000. The driver in second place will win R10 000, with the third placed driver receiving R5 000.

To enter, go to www.thankyoutrucker.co.za 

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Using decelerated globalisation in favour of your supply chain sourcing strategy

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How SA’s motoring industry is using it to their advantage – Bidvest International Logistics gives the inside take.  

JOHANNESBURG, 20 July 2022 –  The war in Ukraine and its impact on the world economy has once again exposed the risks inherent in globalisation.

The conflict has further disrupted global supply chains already strained by the Covid-19 pandemic, and according to Simon Geale, executive vice-president at supply chain consulting firm Proxima, the deceleration of globalisation is now a certainty.

Given all that’s transpired internationally in the past two years, businesses are now near-shoring their operations in an attempt to negate issues of cargo congestion and suspension of goods and services provision globally.

The shift to new strategies emphasising local sourcing has become critical.

In June, Business Unity South Africa (BUSA) reported that the continued spread of Covid-19’s Omicron variant, the ongoing effects of the war in Ukraine as well as other constraints had pushed cargo volumes in South Africa to their second lowest level in the past 12 months, despite freight rates remaining astronomically high.   

Shoring up local supply networks is vital if South Africa is to keep its head above water amid speculation that another recession is imminent.

Businesses would do well to follow the example of South Africa’s automotive sector, says Bidvest International Logistics’ Supply Chain Solutions Manager, Willem Bekker.  

“South African automotive manufacturers have been implementing local sourcing strategies for years – well before the war in Ukraine or even the pandemic.

“This has been driven by the automotive industry incentive programmes put in place by the Department of Trade, Industry, and Competition (DTIC), specifically the Automotive Production and Development Programme (APDP), called APDP 2 in its current form.

“In order to qualify for the significant incentives offered by this programme, the locally-based automotive original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) have had to implement increasingly high targets for sourcing locally produced content for manufacturing. This means that when it comes to local sourcing, our motor industry is in a far better position than other countries.”

The APDP is reviewed every few years. Its major impact, with its strong focus on localisation, is that it starts to create an entire value stream of locally manufactured goods and services linked to the automotive industry.

Newer versions of the policy stress activities outside of the direct manufacturing operations, such as second and third tier component suppliers, service provision, distribution and logistics systems and infrastructure.

Bekker also points out that because South Africa is  geographically isolated from major economic hubs, the cost of moving goods to the country from Europe or the US is far higher than moving goods within the US or Europe.

“This means that localisation has a significant logistics cost benefit, while also allowing far more flexibility in the supply chain through not being dependent on long global shipping lead times.”

Port and border congestion, which remains a threat to supply chains, further strengthens the case for localisation.  The BUSA report indicated that massive delays persisted on the busiest trade lanes, with an average of 17,5 days’ worth of delays on a full rotation between North-West Europe and the Far East.

According to Bekker, it is essential that clients are provided visibility into their supply chains through visualisation and tracking tools.

A May 2022 white paper by the World Economic Forum indicates there is growing demand for cross-border regional integration in southern Africa, with South Africa’s ports and borders playing a significant role.

South Africa has been proactive in this regard, introducing electronic supporting documents, a mobile application tool that allows inspection results to be captured, and a web-based platform for end-to-end processing of customs clearances.

The effect has been a reduction in the time needed for physical inspections from eight hours to two on average, a simplification of real-time customs declarations to as little as seven seconds, and halving the number of days to import goods.

Cargo scanners and electronic cargo tracking systems have also now made it possible to monitor goods in transit in real time.

The shifts occurring are all about building resilience, Bekker says. The traditional Just-in-Time model has become one that emphasises Just-in-Case as supply chains are redefined.

“You have to consider first-tier suppliers exposure to the risks you are trying to avoid. This works best by strong collaboration throughout the supply chain, building long term relationships and partnerships with key suppliers, and jointly understanding the macro-level benefits of realising a successful localisation strategy.”

Bekker says the localisation focus is likely to carry on as long as South Africa continues to assist in the development of a globally competitive motor industry.

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Historic milestone achieved: 95 women graduate with an international qualification in logistics and transport

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In a major milestone for women in logistics, transport and supply chain in South Africa, 95 ladies recently graduated with an international qualification in logistics and transport. It is part of the pioneering Women Inspiring Women to Lead in Transport programme, the brainchild of Nicci Scott, founder of the Commercial Transport Academy. Supported by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), the Programme will see one thousand women completing the Programme, aimed at uplifting the skills of women in management, entrepreneurship and truck driving.

The graduates – currently employed in logistics, transport and supply chain organisations across the country – underwent an intense 10-month training programme aimed at improving their knowledge, learning new skills and advancing their management and leadership abilities to secure senior-level employment.

Benefits for all

The CTA Excellence Programme has resulted in benefits – to employers, the graduates and the broader industry. Worldwide Flight Services – South Africa (WFS) is an active supporter of the Programme. “WFS now has the edge in the market, with two ladies having participated and successfully completed the Chartered Institute of Logistics and Transport’s (CILT) International Diploma in Logistics and Transport,” explains  Elvis Maleka – Operations Manager at WFS Johannesburg. “The knowledge is valuable to our organisation and to the two ladies.”

Maleka adds that the CTA’s focus on women will assist in addressing the skills gap in the industry:  “This is a gain for us as a ground handler and WFS is proud to be part of this change.”

As a result of her successful completion of the Programme, WFS’s Zethu Dlamini received a promotion from Senior Imports Team Leader to an Administration Manager for their Imports Department. For Zethu, who shared her journey, life has been full of hardships and challenges. From losing her mother at the tender age of four and her father when she was just 21 years old, Zethu has had to endure and overcome many obstacles. “If it wasn’t for this great initiative of the CTA, I would never have been able to graduate with an international Diploma. I am so grateful to WFS Managing Director Malcom Tonkin for enabling me to improve my skills and leadership abilities.”

With their CILT Diploma and industry experience, the graduates will be able to apply to carry internationally-recognised designations after their name – an increasingly important asset, given National Treasury’s initiative to professionalise the supply chain.

Top Students

Special recognition was given to the top three graduates:

  1. Jo-Anne de Jager – Solutions Manager: Unitrans Supply Chain Solutions
  2. Annah Mmatshwene Ncube – Operations Controller: Transnet Pipelines
  3. Malebo Ndamase – Policy and Planning Chief Directorate as Director: Gauteng Department of Roads and Transport

Special Awards

A special award was given to Jabulile Mtsweni, an Operations Supervisor. Jabulile was awarded funding from training provider Commerce Edge to enable her to study for the CILT International Advanced Diploma in Logistics & Transport Level 6.

Transport, logistics and supply chain play a critical role in economic development. Transport contributes 8% to the total GDP and has the ability to create four jobs per R1 million invested. “Yet transport is the least gender-transformed sector,” says Nicci Scott, CTA’s founder. “Urgent interventions on scale that have an impact, are vital. Our Women Inspiring Women to Lead in Transport Programme is one such initiative that will have a positive impact on industry transformation.”

To enrol on one of the Programmes, email [email protected]

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